U.s. Military Base Clark City To Be Alternative Capital?

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Former U.S. military base Clark City to be alternative capital
Government plans $3.6 billion railway to connect Manila-Clark

As insurance against some natural disaster crippling the government in Manila, the Philippines is building an alternate capital. Its chosen site is an air base that was damaged 24 years ago by one of the biggest volcanic explosions of the 20th century.
It’s not like there were many good options: the Southeast Asian country is one of the worst affected by storms, volcanoes and other natural disasters. Just this week, Philippine authorities evacuated more than 700,000 people as Typhoon Melor made its landfall Monday. Schools were shut in the greater Manila area and nearby cities Wednesday as a storm led to major traffic jams with floods across the capital.
Military personnel evacuate residents
Military personnel evacuate residents Photographer: Charism Sayat/AFP/Getty Images
“Can we allow the government to be paralyzed in case a disaster strikes Manila?” Arnel Casanova, president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority or BCDA, said in an interview. “We must have a facility that will allow the government to function with communications, databases, logistics.”
The government of outgoing President Benigno Aquino plans to turn the former U.S. military base, Clark City, into a backup capital, complete with facilities for government agencies, the central bank and financial exchanges, Casanova said in Manila late Monday.
Master Plan
BCDA, the state manager of former military properties, has discussed the plan with the government agency tasked to manage disaster risk, Casanova said. The master plan for the Clark development has been approved by the president, including those for the alternate capital, he said.
Government agencies and the central bank were asked in September to put up business continuity centers in Clark and the BCDA is allotting about 100 hectares (247 acres) to 200 hectares for these, he said. The stock and fixed-income exchanges and the Treasury will also be invited, he said.
Aquino has made disaster resiliency a priority, particularly after Super Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people and destroyed an entire city in 2013. The government held an earthquake drill in July in Manila, ranked among the world’s 10 most disaster-prone cities, according to Verisk Maplecroft.
The nation has had frequent reminders of the disruptions that natural disasters can cause. In 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted after lying dormant for more than 600 years, covering Clark Air Base in ash and destroying buildings.


$3.6 Billion Railway
BCDA is planning to build a 170 billion-peso ($3.6 billion), 85 kilometer (53 mile) railway to help connect Clark to Manila, Casanova said. The agency could implement that via a public-private partnership deal or through a negotiated contract, he said.
When the U.S. military left in 1991, parts of Clark Air Base were used as an economic zone, where the airport is, though most of the area remains undeveloped. Clark has an international airport and is near Subic seaport, making it ideal as an alternate capital, Casanova said.

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